My Interview at Incredible Women of India: a women-centric online platform

In a world that I have been a part of, usually defined by a characteristic nonchalant stanceKriti Festival_reading a chapter from my memoir towards writers, there are moments like this too, when I look back and forth, reflect on my journey and feel that all has not gone amiss. Thank you dear Rhiti Bose for this up, close and personal session with me and for making me feel incredible!
Friends, do read my interview published at the Incredible Women Of India blogazine, and hope you will like my ramblings.

https://incrediblewomenofindia.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/lopa-banerjee/comment-page-1/#comment-327

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The Faltering Night

In a party today, my throat parched.
I slit myself, edge to edge, in the plastic night.
Looking at the men and women, known faces
And their unmistakable steps, hips shaking
to the practiced rhythm of recycled songs
and greetings, the leering, turning around,
cowering, ignoring, letting in a faint light of moon
dance wayward between lipsticked mouths.
In familiar photo frames, they stood, hung on to
each other’s lies.

In the hungry tide of the night,
they have tried hard to oscillate between smooth talk,
munching on juicy gossip and yawning.
At the dinner buffet, their half-baked words
and grin, ear-to-ear, attempts of blushing
at vain compliments float around
the crisp air aromatic with food and foibles.
They stutter and fumble, raising toasts
and breathing, shallow, contrived, perishing.

In the party today, I licked my lips, lonely, ornate,
I looked into the prancing and preening of kids,
the male gazes, the lame old stories
that vanished and resurfaced.
From a far-flung corner, I smiled back at the faces,
Surveying the lies of the night, running wild.

Chisel: Ballad of a Daydreaming Maid

April 28, 2015

National Poetry Writing Month

 

Tender, soft and young hands
Spread out in spirals of want,
Tiny feet, walking barefoot
Over the cloud train of
fairy-winged dreams.
The softest coos, gurgles
and milky, blabbering words
Leap from the depths of the earth
As the mother chisels
the little forms
raining over her,
kissing the soft petals,
the dark hazel eyes,
the happy flowers sprung open
to her, a resonant spring song.

The days her weary hands
Wipe rooms, wash sticky dishes,
Beat, wash, strain
and pat dry stained clothes,
Her tongue parched to the core,
She chisels virgin daydreams
that she had nurtured in her womb.
The dreams scream in the sickening heat
While she hums silently,
The mosquitos and ants, all back,
Crawling over her in the numb dark
Of the kitchen counter
she wipes the kitchen tirelessly,
Spik-and-span, till her masters
come home in the evening,
The glint in her eyes, grabbing
the paper notes.
Her body, shrinking, coiling,
the vermilion smudged in sweat.

At home, the walls reek
of cheap, store-brought liquor
Coughing up, in constant phrases
The avalanche of her dreams blasted.
At home, inside the crumbling walls
Her toddler girl tumbles over her belly,
The snowy shrouds of dreams
Come back again, in the dark,
As the babe in her womb kicks and nudges.
Her morning begins, digging in the dirt,
Sculpting yet another daydream
and the next, under the flame-lit sky,
Within the polka-dotted walls
Where she breaths, flapping, undone.

‘The Femme Fatale’: a Prose-Poem

fire

Image source: Burning heart. searchpp.com

 

She shuddered, screamed, gorging up in flames
Stumbled upon her own shadow,
The black clouds of despair.
The flames devoured her, burnt sienna,
The vapor and choking odor of fire
And crushed desires. The bathroom door creaked,
The smell of flesh and skin, tattered, lost, the tears
Sliding up and down the labyrinth of pain,
She kicked the door, pushed her face, flickering
Towards the window, she had known the futility
Of this scream, this rush to live, on the verge of surrender.
“Help, help, I want to live”, ‘for one last time,
I want to live”, the thick fog of men, and women,
Family, neighbors, sliding around, contemplating,
Inch by inch, witnessed a devouring, broke open
The door, the charred flesh recoiled, stockpiled against
Their ceaseless inquiries. “Why did she do this?”
A hunched, elderly lady frowned. “How could she do this?”
A middle-aged housewife cried out. “Let’s rush to the hospital.
We may still have chance. Maybe the doctors can save the baby still.”
Her young son said; he flung his arms around the body in smoke,
Others poured buckets of water, to pacify the flames.
In the narrow front porch, where the queries and smells
Of the smoke reiterated in fragmented bursts,
Her toddler son of three chortled as he caught ants and frolicked
With the stray dogs. The child was searching for
His first learnt words, hashing and rehashing,
“Mother, mother, Maa, my Maa”. They took her away,
The world came around him in a maze, haunting, deep, dark,
Implausible, like his newly learnt words, pauses, phrases.

The flesh surrendered, slipped into an infinite void.
Inside the latched door of a surgical ward, doctors struggled
To evacuate a charred human fetus from a fire consumed womb.
The girl fetus had a blue tinge of sky in her furrowed forehead,
Her silken hair, tousled, smoked, mirrored her mother’s,
She gripped her fading earth, her last breaths, hanging loose,
Interspersed with her mother’s last, dying embers.
The earth didn’t shatter with this half-baked tragic tale,
She was a femme fatale, after all,
And the girl breathing inside her would trail after her,
For sure….words splashed along, riding in waves,
Waxing and waning, the neighborhood lapped up the waves.

In a household of ten people, a husband, and his kith and kin,
Each a furious, complaining drone, her tears regenerated each night.
Her kitchen chores, her fasts, and religious obeisance,
The cups of tea she made, her humming presence, a threat to
The sound and fury of their thundering voices.
At twenty four, married, with a toddler son, in a family
Of patriarchs grumbling, and well-meaning matriarchs
Looming above her, she gulped spoonful’s of their want
Gagged, clenched her lips, serving up hot dinners.
Nostalgia, music, books and old friends, emaciated memories
Forlorn, burning through the night sky.
The husband would come to her, grope her in between
Frantic, long distance office trips. Their love whispered,
Rolled around, surreptitiously,
A grey, forbidden piece of fabric.
She was the unexpected gust of wind, flinging her presence
Too fast, a witch, ensnaring their son, their brother
With her furtive eyes, her thick curls, her frail melodies.
In months and years, the magic potion they whispered
In his ears, worked. She was truly a witch, slapped, snapped
Drugged into silence; the words he spoke to her,
Transformed to a darkening quiet.
She had hidden the torn, dead skin of her nightmares,
She smiled, sang lilting love songs in the terrace,
Hugged the coconut tree, its leaves canopying her afternoons.
In a terrace right across, a wistful young man had played his flute.
All day, she chased her truant toddler, a kite in the verdant air
In the afternoon, the young neighbor held in his arms
The chuckling child, fluttered their wings together.
In the terrace, their surreptitious glances floated
In clusters of poetry, the shades of her desire,
Scarlet, bronze, earthen, pastel, unveiled in the untimely rain.
The flutist and the poet caressed her scars,
Their glances intersected often at the tulsi plant,
The courtyard, the porch and the neighboring pond.
His blood had boiled as he had clasped her papery wrists
One night, taking in the last drops of monsoon; he urged her
To take along her sleeping toddler, elope with him.
Her ornate vermilion has smudged, she looked in his eyes
In tarnished stupor, for one last time, and then, a bang
In her head, followed by vehement kicks and curses.
In the dark crevices of her womb, a sapling had breathed,
Rustled, moved and drifted, the dwindling promise
Of a tainted embrace.
“This kultaa, this dreadful promiscuous woman has brought
Shame to us, opened the door to hell. She’d better be
Off our sight”, they hissed to her at night.
One by one, they paraded in the room, their footsteps,
Dense, their sounds, menacingly cold. “We want the child
Ripped apart, finished by tomorrow, and this, our final word!”
The bathroom door latched the next morning, the fire
And the flames draped her like a quilt.
Red, withering, flickering, lapped up by the embers,
While her breath choked, for the last few fragmented moments,
She screamed to live, while the sapling inside her
Wiggled, fluttered, withered, burned.
For years, the neighborhood hummed this half-baked tragic tale,
She was a femme fatale, after all,
And the girl breathing inside her would have trailed after her,
If she had been alive, for sure.

Note: Based on real life stories, interspersed with some fictional elements, dedicated to the beautiful lives of women in India, nipped in the bud.

SHE: Draupadi and the Every Woman

 

My March column at B’Khush, the women-centric e-zine, ‘She: Draupadi and the Every Woman’, a poetic narrative dedicated to all my women friends across the globe, just before the occasion of the International Women’s day in March 8. The piece is developed from an excerpt of my book-length memoir ‘Thwarted Escape’ which has recently been a finalist and a First Place Category winner at the Journey Awards 2014 for Narrative Nonfiction hosted by Chanticleer Book Reviews and Media LLC.

Sharing a small excerpt from the piece:

I was born, in Panchal, bereft of a mother’s Yoni,

Emerging from burning contours of fire,

The river of my body ran and ran, meandering,

Eyes to cheeks, cheeks to chin, chin to my swan neck,

Nativity singing thigh-deep in the river that struggled

To stay still….”

Do read the full piece and leave your valued comments in the page:

http://www.bkhush.com/dev/content/scattered-pearls-she-draupadi-and-every-woman

Red: Withering, Flickering

So honored and delighted to have this poem published in the ‘Woman Inc Poetry Project’ today! Thank you, Pooja Garg Singh, editor of WIPP and my fellow writer friend, for this. Do visit Issue 1: Nov-Dec 2014 of the online magazine dedicated to the journey of woman through the art of poetry:

http://thewomanincpoetryproject.com/2014/11/02/issue-1-nov-dec-2014/

red-lips-628x363

Red lipstick. Image source: http://www.prevention.com

Red: Withering, Flickering

A red stream dances in the folds between my lips
Often cracked, chapped, gliding like a boat
Holding remnants of untold tales and washed out desire.
I have bid adieu to the crimson flowers
Of long-lost calf love, dancing, dangling,
Sailing in thirsty kisses of the summer morn.
My body burns up in flame, in my tattered lips
Fury holds me in his embrace. The lipstick
Is an illusion of poignant tales of romance.
In the peeled, dark tissues of my skin,
A red river flows like an endless, sacred journey.
I slip down in her arms, blown away,
Knocked down by her silken ripples.
I go down the river as I listen to her laugh loud,
I listen to her unveil, mock my long torn pages
Of amorous, blushing beauty.
I dance, I let the river run. I am still a delicious nymph,
Quivering, tender, disrobed. My lips, they are
Faltering, withering, reckless, flickering like candlelight,
In dim light, they still whisper the treason of love.

Author’s Note: I wrote this poem as a response to one of the weekend writing prompts in The Woman Inc Poetry Project’s Facebook group. The images in the prompt, ‘red’, ‘lipstick’, ‘river’ tempted me to write this poem and I am extremely happy to present this poem as a dedication to us women, our physical and inner beauty and our unwavering quest for passion.

 

 

To Ravaged Nymphs

Stop abusing women. Image Source: Therightimpact.com

Note for the readers:  This poem is born out of sheer anger keeping in mind the recent news of the rape and molestation rampage plaguing the women in Kolkata and West Bengal. I dedicate it to all my sisters in India and also worldwide, to their bruises and tears, while knowing that this is the only form of protest that I can do now.

Today I am angry, writhing, moaning.
My lips are full of venom and pain,
My breasts are heaving, malignant
With the burden of human sins.

Let me not sleep in silken slumber
In the vain masculinity of your arms.
Let me not spread my legs and
Drift ashore in the ocean of your lust.

For once, today, let me break free
Of your smothering kisses,
Your broken sentences, 
your overused bed sheets.

In the humming silence enacted
In this room of practiced orgasms,
A shrill cry tries to distract me,
Calls me, breaks through the door.
A cry that pushes through my cervix,
A cry that burns within
This cherished cloak of femininity.

A cry that reminds me
Of the indomitable ulcer of RAPE.
Every minute, one out of three of us
In every corner of the world
Is crushed between your legs,
Your masculinity, a curse,
A puked reality in our lives.

For once, today, my love
Let me untouched,
Let me light the candles
For my sisters in pain!

Copyright: Lopa Banerjee
September 18, 2014